Saturday, October 26, 2013

Fukuoka

Just a few pics from my weekend in Fukuoka. :D I'd been meaning to post these earlier, but no time. Really, just a few of the mountain of pics I took!



Hakata Station was given a makeover a few years ago. I don't think I ever saw it before the make over, but this new station looks great! It's brightly lit at night and I feel pretty safe walking around. A big plus is that there are a lot of people hanging around.




My friend took me to the beach. The weather was warm, but the wind was strong. There were a good number of couples, youth and families playing in the water and enjoying the clear skies and good weather. 




The water was cool and clear. As time passed, the wind became stronger and the waves bigger. I almost lost a sandal to the sea! hehe




Looking out onto Fukuoka City.




Writing the name of your partner on a lock and locking it to something is supposed to represent your unbreakable love...or something like that.




Beautiful sunset. I am so happy I was able to capture it!




Looking down at the city at night. Love it!




The Monday I was in Fukuoka was a national holiday, Sports Day. Throughout Japan, there were a number events related to exercise, fitness and sports. In Fukuoka, they held an event to allow people "climb" Fukuoka Tower. By "climb," they mean, "Walk up the narrow stairs to the observation deck." Before heading up, the staff had all of the participants warm up with "radio exercises." It was surreal to do stretches with a character. But, it's Japan!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Tiny Pizza

I've been getting my pizza fix from Costco, but since I finish Zumba after Costco is closed, and there's a typhoon barreling down on Japan, I decided to order Japanese pizza. Pizza in Japan is crazy expensive. Like "WTH are you smoking?!!11" expensive.

But, I decided to treat myself and order a pizza "set" from Chicago Pizza. A small jabanero pizza (the Habanero Punch, to be exact...topped with bacon, sausages, onions and fresh tomatoes. The habanero was in a packet to be sprinkled over the pizza), and a "healthy set."
The healthy set was my choice of salad (caesar) and what appeared to be tater tots.

Ok, so. Yeah. The delivery person comes, hands me the salad. Cool. Hands me the box with the tater tots. Cool. And hands me some other small box. WTF? I've paid 2,300 yen (close to $23) for this small, slightly larger than a Pizza Hut Personal Pan Pizza, thing???

No, it's not the angle...The pizza really is that small!

I had to laugh. "Small" was correct. My hand is not very big. And I just checked my spice packet, and there's not even any habanero in it! Ingredients: Crushed red pepper. Come ON! Well, I got food delivered to my house in the pouring rain, plus enough pizza left for tomorrow's dinner. Can't complain much!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Stationary!

Can I just say that Japan (and Korea) have some of the. best. stationary goods evar? Today I went down to LOFT to get some white-out. I stayed there for close to an hour looking through the various monthly planners for the 2013-2014 year. There are just rows upon rows of planners. Some are covered with characters, from Sailor Moon to Eric Carle's Hungry Caterpillar. Others are meant to mimic the look of an 18th century European book. Of course there are the plain ones that proliferate the shelves of bookstores in the U.S., too.

erhmegerd! i'm in planner heaven!!11


It might seem strange to use a monthly planner when cell phones have been used in Japan for decades and smartphones have also become quite popular. Perhaps Japanese people are analog like I can be. Or, as I guess, having a planner is a way to display your personality. Girls with cutesy planners and guys with businessy looking ones. You don't just write in your planner. If you're a girl, you pimp that planner out. And there are lots of stickers, tags, highlighters, etc. to help your planner become the cutest of them all...

ma1 p1anner lulZ


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Random Tip of the Day 10152013

I'm going to make this short.
If you're in Tokyo, and want a great shot of the city from high up, but don't want to pay to go up Tokyo Tower or Tokyo Skytree, I suggest the Keio Plaza Hotel in Shinjuku.

Walk up in there like a boss and take the elevator to the 42nd floor of the main building. It's unlikely (?) that anyone will stop you because the Keio Plaza is crawling with foreigners and Japanese tourists. Just walk up like you are supposed to be there.
Once you get up to the 42nd floor, you can walk over to one of the large windows and get some great shots of the city.
Pro-tip: The windows in the women's bathroom have a great view.
Pro-tip: The men's bathroom may also have a nice view?

Wheee!!

Friday, October 11, 2013

My Chanel Bag

This might sound strange, but Japan and Korea (and I'm sure China, too) have the cutest bags! And when I say "bags," I don't mean purses; I am talking about the shopping bags. I remember when I spent a summer semester abroad in Korea, I'd save all of the cute bags because we had nothing like that in the U.S., or at least not in Michigan. I thought I was strange.

Then I came to Japan.

One of the first things about Japan that stood out to me were the sheer number of women with brand name purses. Wherever I looked I saw Prada. Chanel. Louis Vuitton. Coach. Hermes. It was like nothing to people here. 

"Oh! You have a Prada bag?!"
"Duh. Of course I have a Prada bag. Who doesn't have one??? Are you fucking stupid?"

Something like that.

Another thing that stood out were the women who always had the bag their bag came in. The Prada Bag bag. The Coach Bag bag. etc. It was as if every other woman had just stepped out of Hudson's and wanted the world to know that she just bought something at Hermes.

At least, that's what I thought...until I looked in the bag.

They were putting their bento in the Chanel or Coach shopping bag and carrying it around. This might be more of a West Japan thing than an East Japan thing. On Himitsu no Kenmin Show (a show that looks at the unique cultures of the various prefectures of Japan), Osaka gals who did this were made fun of.

Which bag should I take...to carry my bento in?
So, yeah. I felt vindicated in my bag love. And I of course hold on to any bag that I can get so that I, too, can look like I'm rich. It doesn't help that the bags are in fact quite sturdy. And I guess it does look cute to walk around with a Chanel shopping bag filled with your wallet and stuff.

As a related story, a year or so ago I was browsing through a store that sold used and discounted designer bags. Two Chinese guys came in and bought some LV bags. But, when the staff put the bags in an nondescript shopping bag, the men asked her if she had a LV bag to put them in. 
The bag that the bag comes in carries as much status as the bag itself. 

Just remember that.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Drinking

"Japan will turn you into an alcoholic."

I can't remember where on the interwebs I read this, but I certainly remember reading it as I did my pre-Japan preparation research. But...then again, it might have been "Korea" and not Japan. Maybe I read the same thing, but for each country...

Whatever country it was, I brushed it off. I mean, I never drank much in the US. I was never old enough to drink much before coming to Japan and I couldn't really picture myself sitting alone in my apartment drinking. But, here I am, seven? eight? years later, sitting in my apartment at 12:30 am debating on whether or not to open a can of this 7-11 chu-hi and down it before crawling into bed and dragging myself out in a few hours.

Decided to save the 7-11 for another day. 


Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Comedian Sakurazuka Yakkun Killed in Car Crash

Japanese media is reporting that comedian Sakurazuka Yakkun, 37, was killed in a traffic accident on Saturday, October 5. According to reports, Yakkun and a friend were driving through Yamaguchi Prefecture when their car stalled. When they got out, they were struck and killed by another car.


Saturday, October 5, 2013

I Will Try This Makeup

Make-up is such a large part of daily life for Japanese women. Wearing make-up to work is considered an obvious professionalism. Even if someone doesn't go full out, they will wear either eyeliner, foundation or something that shows that they have makeup on. I'm from Michigan, but I hear that the South is similar to Japan in that women in the South feel that makeup is what you wear when you go out.

My mom doesn't wear makeup and I've never been all that interested in it. But, as it does, I've been feeling the pressure to conform in some way. I've spent the past 3 years or so looking through various makeup types, from powder foundation to BB cream. Having brown skin also hasn't helped my search. In a country that values light colored skin, the standard foundation/BB cream colors are usually too light, and the darker colors are often times too dark.



While, I would have no problem letting this issue go if I was back home, I decided to try and see if I could come up with something here. I can't stress how important makeup is here. As a foreigner, it's possible that no one cares what's on my face. But, I would be naive to assume that people don't judge. So, what I've stumbled upon is something a bit simpler that makes me look "nice" while not taking a lot of time.

And, that is blush! My T-zone gets very oily, and when I have used foundation, I look a fright after a few hours. With blush and some lip gloss, I think that I've found something that makes me look made up without looking overdone. So, if you're like me and you're in Japan and don't or can't do the whole Japanese makeup thing, try some blush. That might just be the small thing that helps you pull off a look!

I used Chanel #65 blush with Gelato Pique (a gift from a coworker) lip gloss and on occasion Chanel #54 lip gloss.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Deep Breath

After getting fired and then rehired in July, I've been spending a lot of time thinking about where I went wrong or what I should have done differently. I have been quite depressed here in Japan for the past few years, and this was just another reason for me to fucking hate this country. Despite my best efforts to try and think of the positive, the negative thoughts really come back quickly and last longer than any positive ones.

I thought that I had a grasp on Japanese culture, Japanese office culture, but my confidence has been shaken. So, I've been searching and reading through blogs, newspaper articles, forums and book excerpts online during work to find what I've been missing. I think that I've gotten so focused on just trying to get through the days that I've lost track of how well I used to be at reading people, at evaluating situations and at just thinking in general.

It's so easy to say, but your experience in Japan...at a Japanese company is totally dependent on the people around you. Especially the person who is your manager. When I was a CIR, I worked with a handful of Japanese coworkers who had extensive overseas experience. They knew what it was like to be a foreigner. They trusted me to work with them to create translated documents. And even if I disagreed with some of their methods, at least they had that overseas experience.

In my current position, aside from one new coworker, no other Japanese coworkers have extensive overseas experience. Aside from some light travel, they've never left Japan. They have no idea what it feels like to be a foreign resident of a country. Their views of me and my other non-Japanese coworkers are shaped by the fact that they see us as tourists. No matter how long we are here, that's all they see us as.

What's more is that their ideas about how to work with us are based on their experiences working with the handful of other foreigners who worked there. And since they don't understand and don't want to understand, there is no support. They just don't care that we non-Japanese don't get to go back home on 3-day weekends or the end-of-the-year break. They think that excluding us from decision-making, from becoming seishain or more is the right thing to do because we'll eventually leave or...something.

So. Again. Your experience is very, very, VERY much dependent on the people in your office. If your manager/coworker/boss wants to work with you and respect you, you'll be in a position better than most. *Deep sigh*

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Sailor Moon Necklace :D

Please allow me to fangirl for a moment. 
This year marks the 20th anniversary of Sailor Moon. Can you believe it? WTH?? I can't believe it! To mark the anniversary, Bandai has come out with a number of Sailor Moon items, many of which are aimed at (Japanese) girls who grew up watching the show. So...I guess people between the ages of 20 and 39ish?

Back in June, my boyfriend sent me the link to this limited edition Sailor Moon powder. Despite my best efforts, I wasn't able to nab one. At the end of August...or was it the beginning of September?, he sent me another Sailor Moon Bandai link. This time for T-shirts and a necklace. Being the slightly impulsive person that I am, I placed an order for one of the necklaces. It was delivered at the end of September...

Wrapped in plastic.

20th Anniversary. omg,  I can't believe it...

Description on the bottom of the box.

Dat plastic...

The necklace! Whee! I've been wearing it everyday and loving it!
Thank you for allowing my fangirl moment. You may continue with your activities. For those that are interested, the other necklaces can be found here. I bought the above one partly because most of the others were sold out when I checked the page. But, I still love it! The Bandai page of Sailor Moon goods can be found here